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Tories accuse Keir Starmer of hypocrisy over law firm second job talks

2 min read

The Conservatives have accused Keir Starmer of hypocrisy after it emerged he was in talks about taking up a second job at a top law firm. 

Mishcon de Reya said it wanted the Shadow Brexit Secretary to work as an advisor to its academy – a role he held before he joined the Shadow Cabinet last year.

Mr Starmer’s camp said he had not accepted any offer – but stopped short of ruling it out altogether.

“They approached him to do some work for their academy, but he hasn't accepted,” a source close to the former director of public prosecutions said.

Tory MP James Cleverly has written to Mr Starmer to question whether such a role would amount to a conflict of interests, pointing out that Mishcon de Reya had represented Gina Miller in the recent legal battle over whether Parliament should have a say in the triggering of Article 50.

Mr Cleverly said: “Mishcon de Reya have been an active participant in legal cases surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

“The firm stressed that the result of the referendum was not legally binding and supported anonymous claimants in their legal efforts last year...

“In your position as the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union you will be personally involved with drafting and speaking on legislative amendments on the EU Withdrawal Bill. You have also recently been made a member of the Privy Council, which will allow you privileged access to documents and information.  

“Members of the public will rightly detect a conflict of interest between your paid work for a law firm and your important role on the front bench.”

He also pointed out that in 2015 Labour had proposed a ban on MPs holding second jobs.

“Your actions will be seen as hypocritical and your party states one position but allows its own MPs to do another,” Mr Cleverly added.

He called on the Labour MP to make a public statement about his plans, whether the job could be compatible with his Shadow Cabinet responsibilities, a list of any clients he would contact in his role and the firm, and whether his work could assist any clients pressing for a change in UK Government policy.

A statement from the law firm said: “We are in discussions with Keir Starmer about reappointing him as an adviser to the Mishcon Academy.

“His wide experience and previous association with the firm would enable him to play a key and unique role in shaping the work of the academy, which leads new thinking and develops the potential of everyone in the firm.”

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